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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

IMPRESS'S FAVOURITE                          237

admired for it. After Szema Kuang's death he became the undisputed
"~rst scholar of his time, and while he did not seem exactly cut out for

premier, it was generally admitted that as a personality he towered
tead and shoulders above the entire officialdom. For a time, two of his
riends were at the head of the government, namely, Lu Kungchu and
Tan Chunjen. His brother, too, had come back to the capital, arriving
in January 1086, to take the post of high censor in the premier's office,
and was made vice-minister of the interior in the following year. All
his friends who had been banished to the south were now occupying
important positions at the court, including Prince Wang Shien, Wang
Kung, Sun Chueh, and Fan Tsuyu. His old friend at Huangchow,
Cjtien Tsao, too, had come to the capital, not to be an official, but to
jb Su Tungpo and enjoy his company. The great poet Huang Ting-
[chien, who had corresponded with him years ago, came to make his
' acquaintance and to be formally accepted as his disciple. For a number
of years, in his correspondence, Su Tungpo had repeatedly praised four
scholars of his time and this had greatly enhanced their reputations.
It became established during this period that there were "four disciples
of Su Tungpo," namely, Huang Tingchien, Chin Kuan, Chang Lei,
and Chao Puchih. Later two more persons were accepted, Li Chih and
Chen Shihtao, making a total of "six disciples" of Su.
^£Ju Tungpo's popularity broke up a marriage. The scholar Chang
^fuanpi was a great admirer of the poet. He was not much to look at,
but had married a beautiful wife. Very soon after the marriage the
'^yife found that the husband read Su Tungpo's poems all night and
did not pay any attention to her. It got to the point where she could
not bear it any more, and she said to her husband: "So you love Su
Tungpo more than me! Well then, I want a divorce." She got it, and
Chang told his friends that he was divorced by his wife all on account
of Su Tungpo.

Such was Su's popularity at this time that many scholars began even
to imitate his hat. He wore a particularly high hat with a narrow
bend forward at the top, and this became known as the "Tsechan hat",
Tsechan being Su's courtesy name. One day he accompanied the
Emperor on a pleasure trip to Lichuan, where there was,a theatrical
performance by the court actors. One of the comic actors wore this hat
on the stage and boasted: "I'm a far better writer than all of you!"
"How do you prove it?" said the other actors. "Don't you see the hat
I'm wearing?" replied the comedian. At this the Emperor smiled and
looked significantly at Su Tungpo.

In the midst of all this, Su Tungpo indulged in a great deal of joking
and fun-making with his friends. While he was minister of education
and chief examiner, he was shut up with his friends the other judges
for weeks. While they were busy looking over the papers during office